'The Magicians' Kicks Off One of the Books' Best Arcs, the Muntjac's Voyage


The Magicians is an interesting show, because it’s not so much adapting the books its based on as remixing them. The characters, events, and themes are all there, they’re just being used in brand-new ways, artfully repurposed to incorporate tons of original, show-only plots. So, it’s no surprise that the second episode of Season 3 launched one of the best plots from the books in a very different, but recognizable way.

The Muntjac has set sail.

In Episode 2, “Heroes and Morons,” Elliot embarks on a quest to save magic by collecting seven keys. Margo stays behind, to prevent the Fairy Queen from spying on their every move, and Elliot’s “official” reason for the voyage is to collect taxes. Fillory isn’t exactly a naval power, but the Muntjac, a ship made from “sentient trees,” is the fastest and wisest ship in the kingdom.

In the second book in author Lev Grossman’s series, The Magician King, Elliot’s lie about taxes is the actual reason for the voyage. At least at first. And Elliot isn’t even on the boat. At least at first. It’s Quentin, who is still in a still-magical Fillory, who decides to sail to the farthest island under Fillory’s rule to collect taxes because of his ennui. He’s feeling listless, so he and Julia give themselves a quest. Of course, that minor quest soon turns into a grander quest involving seven keys, and Elliot eventually sails the Muntjac himself. But, the second episode of the season is an excellent example of how The Magicians* plays with the source material.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where the heck the name “Muntjac” came from, or why there’s a creepy wooden deer skeleton for a masthead, here’s your answer:

A muntjac. 

Flickr / Tambako the Jaguar

A muntjac is a type of small deer found in south Asia, sometimes known as barking deer. Muntjacs are notable for being one of the oldest types of deer, being very cute, and having lil fangs.

Not a bad namesake, eh?

The Magicians Season 2 airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on Syfy.